Norway intends to step up efforts to combat illegal gambling by closing a loophole in those parts of its advertising laws that relate to gambling products.

The government is preparing to amend the Broadcasting Law that will allow the Norwegian media to order local television distributors and Internet service providers to prohibit the advertising of gambling products and services to a Norwegian audience.

For many years, non-licensed companies could operate in Norway and advertise their offers on Norwegian television, because of many television stations that broadcast in the Scandinavian country, but do their work outside Norway.

Discussions about loopholes on advertising in Norwegian law and about the necessity to close them were started in 2017.  The main goal of the government is to prohibit the sale of gambling products in the country. Norwegian gambling regulator Lotteri-og stiftelsestilsynet began consultations on the case in the spring of  2018.

Currently, the state-owned companies such as “Norsk Tipping” and “Norsk Rikstoto” are the only two gambling operators that are allowed to advertise their services on Norwegian television. Norway is one of the few European countries that supports the monopoly model as its preferred gambling service delivery system.

Lawmakers believe that only in case of preservation of this model they will be able to protect the country’s population from the problems associated with gambling.

Norwegian Minister of Culture and Gender Equality Abid Q. Raja reacted on possible changes to advertising rules as an important step in Norwegians’ life. He said that for the government this is a valuable choice, where the interests of people with problems in gambling and their relatives should have the priority higher than  some financial considerations.

According to a report by Lotteri-og stiftelsestilsynet last October, advertising costs for unlicensed online gambling operators decreased by 19% and amounted to about 631 million NOK (it’s about 54.8 million US dollars).

And in a separate report published in August 2019, it is stated that if new, stricter rules come into force, broadcasters can see that their annual advertising revenue will decrease by NOK 500 million.

Norway has also recently introduced new restrictions on local banks and other financial institutions that process payments from off-shore gambling companies. At the end of last year, the country’s gambling regulator sent a letter to financial institutions warning them that they should not process gambling transactions with any company that does not have the right to work in Norway.

The new rules entered into force on January 1, 2020, and in accordance with them, banks and payment systems should investigate all transactions involving unlicensed gambling companies and report their results to Lotteri-og stiftelsestilsynet.

Some banks also need to provide detailed reports on their role as a channel for off-shore operators or payment systems that work with such operators.

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